Sunday, 28 March 2010

The Never Ending Question

Do you think that Spring has arrived yet?  It’s a question that is constantly banded about at this time of year along with arguments of a late Spring or an early one and discussions on how one can identify if spring has sprung or not.  It’s a bit like our constant preoccupation with the weather, in the respect that it never seems to go away.  The type of discussion that seems to become ever more prevalent as you get older, as though some kind of vicarious learning experience is taking place or a natural instinct to air our feelings about muggy days or impending rains kicks in a few years post puberty.  Quite frankly I’m bored of it now.

A widely recognised harbinger of Spring put pay to this lingering debate when out on a walk today.  The beautiful Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) was spotted enjoying the sunshine in nearby woodland, signalling that Spring is definitely here and that we should now concentrate our discussions on something a little bit more constructive or failing that we could just look for signs of April Showers, the Easter bunny or the hottest day of the year? Peacocks are one of our longest living butterfly species and have fared pretty well over the past couple of decades as a result of climate change. These striking creatures hibernate over Winter and then emerge from late March onwards.  This peacock was right on cue and it’s likely that it emerged sometime over the past couple of days if not today.  It was a very welcome site indeed, quite similar to my discovery of Vanessa atlanta late last year.

I’ve managed to spend a bit of time in the garden this weekend too, which has been quite productive and came as a much welcome relief.  A general tidy up of the garden has added plenty of plant material to the compost heap as has the addition of the only casualty of the Winter, a Wasingtonia filifera palm.  If I’m completely honest it’s no great loss and the patch of earth it left behind was put to good use with the addition of a hazel obelisk on which I intend to grow peas and borlotti beans. The wait for my allotment plot is becoming a bit of a nightmare, although I’m reliably informed that I am number two on the list, so the garden is slowly evolving in to a potager.

My first batch of compost has been a great success and I spent quite a bit of yesterday morning applying it as sumptuous mulch to the top garden borders.  It will help suppress weeds, insulate the soil and retain much needed moisture.  Many of my plants are in a hurry to grow and are pushing up through the newly warmed soil, this mulch should aid them as the season progresses.  Several Clematis race away and require a little string as forced support to help them on their ramble, on top of what’s in already planted, I have also added a Clematis tangutica.  This plant was a gift, which has lived in a pot outside my front door for the last two years and was in need of a more permanent spot. 

I just hope the impending cold weather and possible snow, forecast for this week, does not destroy the new growth.  I guess old habits die hard?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Earth Hour: Join in!

You may remember that last year I took part in earth hour and this year will be no different.

Please click the image for more information and sign up to take part in a great event.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The obligatory daffodil post with added hoverfly stalking

Spring was heralded with the sounding of trumpets and a most wonderous fanfare could be heard throughout the land.  Of course I’m referring to the mighty Daffodil and in this case my Narcissus pseudonarcissus.  Saturday brought the vernal equinox, the point where days become equal as hours of light and dark balance out and this is when Spring is said to begin.  At least that’s the theory anyway.  Along with us reaching this annual milestone four daffodils opened and their timing could not have been better.  Okay, they’re a little late but as we are all aware the propensity for daffodils to bloom has been somewhat lackadaisical.  Given the winter conditions we've just come through you can’t blame them for that really.  It was a very welcome sight indeed but it appears that one of the blooms had opened and gone unnoticed, hidden behind a box ball probably a few days earlier as when I discovered it it's petals had already faded.

In the garden my snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’) have given way to the daffodils, anemones (Anemone blanda), various hellebores (Helleborus foetidus, H. x hybridus, H. niger) and lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis), much to the relief of the insects that call my garden home.  Many bees and hoverflies could be seen  buzzing about and one ever-clumsy shield bug was seen sunning itself on the leaf of a foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) prior to probably flying in to windows, walls and unsuspecting people.  I managed to get a couple of shots of the hoverfly enjoying the nectar of garden favourite of mine, Helleborus foetidus, and an Anemone blanda flower.  The pictures are posted below.
Hoverfly on Helleborus foetidus
Hoverfly feeding on Anemone blanda
Last year I posted about the arrival of daffodils in my garden on 24th March, are they any later this year?  I’m not all that convinced.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Win Tickets to RHS Chelsea and a guided tour by Andrew Fisher Tomlin

Ryan's Garden is proud to announce another great competition, this time it's in association with Thrive.  If you are visiting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year you are likely to come across their debut garden designed by Jo Thompson.  I'm hoping to catch up with Jo later on this year to discuss her plans and progress with the garden and no doubt it will feature here on the blog.

If you are not aware of this great charity and the work that they do, please visit their website or click on the link at the bottom of my blog.  Please read below for more information on the competition.

Thrive are celebrating their debut garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, by offering a chance to win 2 tickets for Wednesday 26th May 2010 with an early evening behind the scenes tour with prominent garden designer and RHS judge Andrew Fisher Tomlin.

Andrew will take our winners around the gardens and give an insider’s view on the designs, how the gardens are created and how the judges choose the medal winners.

Don’t miss the chance to enter our draw – simply send an email to and give us your:

• name
• email address
• promotional code: Ryan

This draw requires you to supply us with your e-mail details and by submitting this information you are agreeing to receive information from us. You must indicate clearly if you do NOT wish your details to be added to our e-mailing list.

You can also enter by calling Thrive on 0118 988 5688.

The closing date for receipt of entries is 12.00pm on Friday 14 May 2010.

We will not publish or provide your e-mail address to a third party. Only one entry will be accepted per person. If you are under the age of 16, you must obtain permission from your parent/guardian before entering. Incomplete entries and late entries will not be considered. Full terms and conditions are available from Thrive on request.

Good Luck!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Ryan's Garden One Year Anniversary, A Home for Carnivores and the Competition Winner

Have you ever thought about making a terrarium?  I have intended to make one since last Christmas when I bought a jar of old fashioned sweets.  The leftover glass jar was too good to throw away so I saved it specifically for this project.  In typical style I forgot about it and got side tracked by other things.

Recently I read a couple of great blogs which inspired me and prompted me to take action.  The first  post I came across was written by Jane Perrone and it pictured the most beautiful terrarium I think I have ever seen.  Jane's terrarium had the look I was aiming for, however, I now know just how difficult it is to plant in a small jar!  So, hats off to Jane.  The other post that catapulted me forward was written by Martyn Cox.  Martyn and his son demonstrated the processes involved in making my small garden.  It also shows us how much fun it can be to make a terrarium with your children.  If you have a spare few hours that need occupying then this is a great project.  You can read his full post here.

I knew that I was limited to just one or two plants for my tiny terrarium and after a little research I decided that I would use a venus fly trap (Dionaea muscipula).  These plants thrive in the terrarium environment and it will enjoy the position I have in mind for it.  I also used moss from my garden to cover the remaining soil.

To make my terrarium I followed a few simple instructions:

1. A suitable vessel is selected and cleaned.
2. Gravel is washed and added to the terrarium to help with drainage and stop plants from sitting in water.
3. A specfic carnivorous plant compost is added.
4. Venus fly trap and moss is positioned using two spoons and firmed in.
5. The terrarium is watered and allowed to settle.

If you find that condensation is building up inside the terrarium you can open the lid to allow some moisture to evaporate.  It is also important for the Venus Fly Trap that you allow it to be exposed to the world outside of the terrarium as it will not fulfill its purpose in life if it cannot catch insects.  I intend to place my fly trap outdoors in the summer so that it has a chance to find something to eat and failing this I will use a fertiliser which will give the plant the necessary nutrients for growth.

For a first attempt, It's not too bad.  I still aspire to create something as beautiful as what Jane made and one day I'm sure I will but for now I will remain content and watch the fly trap blossom.  

Have you made a terrarium?  Do you have any hints or tips for success?

If you entered the Mother's day competition to win a great pair of gardening gloves check here to see if you won!

In other news it has been exactly one year since I started writing this blog!  I would have prepared a special post but I have only just realised.  Thank you to all who have commented, retweeted and emailed me over the past year.  It is always appreciated.  Here's looking towards another great year.  Cheers!

Mother's Day Competition: The Winner

We have had a great response to our Mother's Day competition, in fact it's probably the most successful competition we've hosted so far.  Thank you all for entering and please subscribe to the blog as there will be plenty more competitions in the very near future including a chance to win two tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and a behind the scenes tour!

One lucky person was selected at random from all who entered and they will receive a great pair of gloves from Love Thy Space.  The lucky winner of the Mother's day competition is, drum roll please,  Jo from 'The Good Life'.  Well done Jo.  To claim your prize please email me with your chosen delivery address and we'll post the item as soon as possible.

Thank you all for entering and I hope you enjoy the blog!


Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Mother's Day Series: Competition

This competition is now closed.

Would you like a free gift from Ryan's Garden this mother's day?  Well if you live in the U.K, Europe or the U.S.A you could be in with a chance.

In conjunction with Love Thy Space, Ryan's Garden is offering you a great chance to win a pair of luxury handmade ladies garden gloves, pictured above, worth £29.50.  Please click the main image for more details.

These gloves, whilst looking feminine are pretty tough and come in handy for tackling those prickly customers, such as roses or brambles.  Perfect for any gardener who is conscious of their attire and in need of some heavy duty protection these gloves are a must for the keen gardener.

To enter the competition please leave a comment in the comments box below and you will be automatically entered in to a random draw.  The winner will be selected and announced on mother's day (14th March 2010) here on the blog.  Please ensure that you subscribe to email alerts, by entering your email address in the box below this post or on the right hand sidebar, to avoid missing the result .

Good luck and please let your friends know about the competition.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Mother's Day Series: The Real Flower Company

Say it with flowers? Well, you cannot suggest gifts for mother's day without mentioning them.  

My favourite company of the moment, and the whole last year, The Real Flower Company produces fantastic flowers.  Not only are their bouquets incredibly beautiful but they're scented, filled with herbs and of the best quality imaginable.

The company have put together a whole section of the website dedicated to mother's day with a great range of gift ideas.  Please take a look at their site and if you're not inspired by the mother's day range have a look at some of the other ranges and gifts on offer.
You may remember that I wrote a post for the company last year and you can read this by clicking on the screenshot below.
Our next post is the one you have been waiting for, the competition.  The competition is open to the U.K, Europe and U.S.A.  Please sign up to email alerts so that you don't miss out on this great opportunity.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Mother's Day Series: RHS Gift Ideas

Do you struggle with what to buy your mum on mother's day? What do you buy for the woman who has everything?  

If you're mum enjoys gardens, garden shows, botanical art, illustration or photography then the  Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) may hold the secret to a great gift. 

Last year I treated my Mum and Gran to tickets for RHS Cardiff and it's safe to say they thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We were very lucky to have good weather and as both my mum and gran had never attended an RHS show, they were pleasantly surprised with what was on offer.  We took in the show gardens and the flower pavilions, which were both a great hit.  My gran is a big fan of Fuchsias and Chrysanthemums and I'm sure you can imagine her delight when faced with such things en mass.  We enjoyed the food stalls, talking to various growers and listening to the many bands that played throughout the day.  What more could a mother want on her big day?  As a gift idea I can strongly recommend buying show tickets.

My particular favourite gift idea from the RHS comes from their selection of botanical prints.  In actual fact I wouldn't mind a few of these myself.  I particularly like the black and white illustrations.  If you like what I've displayed below please have a look at the full range on the website.

If you think your mum, gran or other loved one would appreciate a gift from this selection, please click the RHS logo below to be directed to their mothers day gifts page.  
Our next post will come from The Real Flower Company.  Folllowing on from this we have a competition which is open to the U.K, Europe and U.S.A.  Please sign up to email alerts so that you don't miss out on this great opportunity.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Mother's Day Series: The homemade scented container

Have you thought about what to buy for your mother this mother's day?  Did you even know that mother's day (UK) is on the 14th March?

Over the next four blog posts I have a few gift suggestions for you, ranging from homemade to luxury.  To end the series I also have a competition and giveaway for the woman who likes to wear suitable but feminine attire in the garden which is open to the U.K., Europe and U.S.A.  If you don't want to miss out on this great opportunity please subscribe by email below or in the right hand sidebar.

Have you thought about making something with that personal touch?  My first suggestion for mothers day is one of my very own, although somewhat recycled.  You may remember that last year I posted an article on making a small planted container for the home or garden, utilising scented Daffodils, Hyacinths and Polyanthus.  This still strikes me as a great gift idea for mothers day and it wont break the bank either.  If this interests you I have reposted the article below:

Mother's day is looming and with the ever present "credit crunch" why not create your own gift which will provide magnificent impact for half the price and without loosing any of the sentiment.

The photo demonstrates something that can be created immediately, and yes, this is one I made myself.  The photo shows a beautiful spring display which is perfect as an indoor display which can be moved outdoors at a later date when the blooms fade.

I chose this display carefully with three things in mind:

1) Price
2) Scent
3) The recipient

I know my mother loves daffodils so that was an easy starting point.  Along the way I found this beautiful double daffodil called Narcissus 'Bridal Crown'.  The added bonus with this daffodil is its scent. A magnificent mix of jasmine and an intoxicating sweetness.  To accompany this I settled on the ever popular Hyacinth, as this too will provide a later flush of colour and scent, and a Polyanthus.

All of these plants were bought in bud but with a little forward planning you could always grow your own, saving even more money, if indeed this is your aim.

A simple container was chosen with the recipients taste in mind and the display was topped off with a covering of sphagnum moss.  This display would cost upwards of £25 in store or online but can me created at a substantially reduced price.  The display should also continue for many years to come.

Tips for creating this display on a budget:

1) Always check the bargain bucket!  At this time of year containers are usually on sale following the winter.
2) Go for an all year round display.  Choose an evergreen shrub.  This display will then pay for itself all year round.
3) Use unused compost from last season to fill your pots, especially if only planting bulbs.
4) For drainage use broken crockery or polystyrene.

From what I can remember this was a great success and added that personal touch to an occasion that can often be negated by its commercial appeal.  A heart felt gift on mother's day without breaking the bank?  You can't beat it!

Our next post will come from the RHS who have a great range of gifts to offer on mother's day.  To close the mother's day series we have a competition which is open to the U.K, Europe and U.S.A.  Please sign up to email alerts so that you don't miss out on this great opportunity.
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